This post originally appeared on DIY Leeds
I need to stop reviewing gigs I’ve played at myself. Or we need more writers for DIY Leeds (it’s a labour of love. Currently all content is written by me and Joe Haze). Anyway…
Every so often you play at a party that stands out a little from the rest. The atmosphere, the other DJs, the reaction from the crowd, the whole thing is just perfect. Distrikt’s courtyard party for Pride on Sunday the 4th was one of those.
This was the first year Distrikt got properly involved in Pride, and it was an awesome party. It’s a great thing that Pride is such a big thing and that so many people across the board get involved. It was slightly odd, on Sunday afternoon, sitting in Outlaws before heading to Distrikt and watching all the corporate giants taking part in the parade. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean it’s a bit like McDonalds and their paper straws that aren’t recyclable. Do these organisations actually care? I would say no. But in a world where we are seeing the rise of the far right in so many places it’s probably a good thing that these giants are supporting something that is about inclusion and acceptance into their protocol. That can’t be bad.
When I started playing my set, just before 3 in the afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect. For one thing, it was a Sunday, and not a bank holiday Sunday, and although Pride was on I wasn’t sure if people were going to stay out. Also, the DJ I was supposed to be playing back to back with was ill and nobody else who was billed was there yet and I half thought that maybe everyone would bail and I’d be playing on my own to a half empty courtyard for several hours. And I’d been up since Friday morning. I hadn’t planned on doing a througher, but then most of the time I don’t – and I always do.
It had been a strange and good weekend. On Friday afternoon I met Marcus Kitchen and our mate Jonny Pratt in Outlaws for a few beers and I guess it was all uphill from there.
We’d arranged to meet up in town, go to a couple of places and then head back to mine for a mix.
The few beers were on my conscience… I’ve recently been doing up a studio space and I’ve also got another music-related project that I’m planning and I’m trying to save money. It’s also been a weird year. During the Brexit uncertainty time, in the run up to the original leaving date, I had two big let downs in my freelance work and I had to cancel a great booking, which still makes me feel shitty every time I think about it. Things are better now, but I have these projects and plans, which I need to put money aside for. Anyway, I was saying to Marcus that I really should quit the beers for a bit as I’d save a fortune, and I suddenly had this weird revelation about life. I’m not really sure what this has to do with the Distrikt Pride Courtyard Party, but it’s significant insofar as you have relatively few of these moments, and they change you, and in the grand scheme of the weekend it was part of what made it all so good.
Anyway, what suddenly came to me – fully formed and straight out of nowhere, as a lot of my thoughts seem to be – was that I’d been wrong in having always dismissed the idea of compromise – or at least I’d never understood it. You always read these things, don’t you, where people are saying that real love is about compromise and I’d always thought that was stupid. My take on it was always that if you have to compromise anything about yourself or your life for another person then they’re not right for you. I remember saying this to a friend who was married and asking what she thought, and she said she thought I was right. But sitting there then I thought that if I was ever capable of loving a person as much as I love music and all the stuff I do then I’d probably be willing to make compromises in my life for them. Having said that, I doubt I could ever love another person that much. But I felt like I’d learned something that had taken me away from my own arrogant dismissal of other peoples’ choices as being stupid.
So there was that. And then there was the Moon Unit rooftop party at East Parade Social, where we headed next. I didn’t have any more life changing revelations, but being on a roof garden with music playing on a warm summer evening is good for anyone’s soul.
And so is having a mix with your friends. For me, more than anything else in the world. I’d hoped to get a podcast mix for a new project out of the session, but got slightly too messy to achieve the level of quality I was after. And I could do with buying some new needles really. At one point Jonny Pratt said ‘We should do this more often’ which made us all laugh because I was like ‘We do this every weekend!’ and then he was like ‘Oh yeah we do, don’t we?’
I think I had planned to get some sleep in at some point, but I’m not really sure when because I’d also planned to meet my mate Nigel the next day and Friday nights end on Saturday lunchtimes at the earliest.
The plan had been, loosely, to go into town and browse the records in Outlaws and get some food, but we just ended up browsing the records in my house until it was time for me to head into town and play at 212 for Throw Down. My friends Steve and Emma had said they’d be out, but when I didn’t see them at 212 I figured their weekend had taken them elsewhere. Me and Nigel stayed a while after my set and then decided to head to Outlaws. As we were about to cross the bridge from Brewery Wharf to the Calls, there were Steve and Emma heading towards us. Perfect timing.
We all headed over to Outlaws, or the favourite teleport destination, as Nigel refers to it now, after making fun of me saying that if I was in the middle of the Vietnam War and I could teleport and go anywhere I’d be like ‘Take me to Outlaws Yacht Club.’ His response was to laugh and say ‘well in that case you’d have to be a time traveller as well’ and then adopt the phrase into his own vernacular forevermore.
We stayed in Outlaws until we looked up and realised that everyone else had gone and the bar staff were cleaning around us and then we went to Steve and Emma’s – another excellent evening that went on until midday the following day – at which point it was time for me to go home, get a shower and head back into town.
So with all that behind me it could have gone either way really.
I arrived at Distrikt earlier than the staff so I made my way through the madness of town back to Outlaws, with the happy thought that I’d have time to get some food. I’d somehow not eaten since Friday lunchtime. This is not usual for me. I normally eat during the session and I was famished. Oh shit and the taxi journey into town was bizarre. The driver said that he was tired and after he’d dropped me off he was going to get some food. “Food and a wee” he said and started giggling manically. “We all need to wee” he continued. “We do” I agreed. “Big pop star, queen, president – all they wee” he added. “Everybody wee.” I agreed that everybody does indeed wee. We briefly moved away from the subject of urination and then the driver spotted a woman walking into town, minding her own business and exclaimed “Oooo! She has muscly legs! Woman like her. You know what she does all weekend? Kissing and pissing!” I howled with laughter. What the fuck was this?
Anyway… having got some food (one of Outlaws ridiculously good grilled cheese sandwiches [Also – RIP the food in Distrikt. You were great and I miss you]) I headed back to Duncan Street with my tunes.
I wasn’t entirely sure where the day was going. Bear in mind that I’d been up since 6am Friday and it was now mid afternoon on Sunday. Also, I was supposed to be playing back to back with Karis but she was ill and couldn’t make it. So I found myself alone in Distrikt courtyard with no idea when anyone else would turn up or if there would be a crowd to listen to my music.
Of course, it didn’t stay this way for long. I mean, it was Distrikt and Pride after all. Soon enough the place started to fill up, and Distrikt with a good crowd is an immensely enjoyable place to be as a DJ. Once I’d played a few and somebody had come up and asked what my last tune had been (the exact opposite to when some cunt comes over with a request) I started to chill out and realised I was having fun.
The staff were really sound and brought me a fresh drink up and sorted out a minor technical problem, and more punters arrived. The weather was alright too. Cloudy but no rain or wind, and still warm – as far as warm has gone this strange summer.
I was still in the dark as to when anyone else would get there. About an hour and a half into my set I assumed soon, as the originally planned back to back set with Karis was supposed to be two hours. I assumed correctly. Gaz Kitchin and Dom Bradbury duly arrived. I thought this would be me done for the afternoon, but Gaz suggested we all do b2b2b one tune each. I was definitely up for that and I think that was a big part of what made it all so good. I buzzed off the other guys tunes and it kept a great energy going and a great sense of camaraderie behind the decks too.
As the afternoon turned to evening and everyone else turned up, the b2b grew into a tune each from me, Dom, Gaz, Nicoloau and Reeshy. It was the best fun I’ve had in ages and the crowd seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was. I felt as though the whole ridiculous weekend had been leading towards this. Very good times.
Around 11 we had to move to the bar. I knew I would have to leave around midnight, which was gutting. As Dee Brown couldn’t make the earlier part of the event, we finished the b2b and she played a set downstairs. As always full of energy and perfect to follow on from the courtyard tunes.
I did not want to go home. I did, in fact, consider staying out – and thank fuck I didn’t because that would have been one step too far given the Monday ahead of me. I did feel weirdly untired the next day, though (considering I didn’t even go straight to bed when I got in as I was ravenous and ordered a pizza). In the early hours of Saturday morning I’d embarked on an explanation of the difference between the actual measurable energy that you get from food and the metaphorical energy that you get from having a good time. One of my friends said something and I realised that he clearly did not appreciate the difference. I began to explain it to him and then I just thought fuck it and left it. Anyway, I take it all back – the metaphorical energy may be real yet. I was certainly living off it all the week after.